The Trauma Pain Connection
Being able to feel safe, both in our mind and body is fundamental to recovering from trauma. But how can we feel comfortable and safe if we are always in pain? Does the pain mean that I am not safe? Chronic pain can mean different things for different people and can elicit various emotional responses.
It may be a triggering reminder of your trauma.
It may be a constant reminder of the life you no longer have.
Maybe it makes you angry or resentful about the life you are missing out on living.
Studies have shown that chronic pain can be caused by stress and emotional issues as well as a physical injury. People who have experienced trauma and particularly those who suffer from PTSD are at a higher risk of developing chronic pain. Along with causing ailments such as stomach aches or headaches, studies have found that increased anxiety and stress lead to increased tension and constriction in muscles. Over time, this causes muscle fatigue.
Even those who have been traumatized often function well under ordinary conditions, it is when stressed that they respond differently than others (those who have not been traumatized). Under stress or pressure, it is not uncommon for someone to feel as if they are reliving their trauma all over again. Physical pain is an indicator that the nervous system is still in survival mode. Even if you think that you have put a traumatic event behind you, your body could be clinging to unresolved issues that you are not consciously aware of.
Part of the work in therapy is about learning to understand your internal warning signs, to learn to trust that they will give you accurate information. This is no easy task, but the more we try to push this away, the longer you are held hostage in your own body.
If you are suffering from chronic pain or have experienced trauma, healing is possible. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more about psychotherapy.